This mini-site comprises commentary and supporting materials about the opera adaptation of 4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables. Philip was the Doctoral Composer in Residence at the Royal Opera House and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, 2013–2016. This mini-site forms part of his doctoral submission. For more information about Philip Venables, see his website here.
This is a practice-based research project about a new operatic adaptation of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis (Methuen, 2000). The opera was written and the research conducted during a three-year Doctoral Composer-in-Residence scheme with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (GSMD) and the Royal Opera House (ROH). This commentary, together with the score and supporting materials, outlines various compositional approaches to working with non-sung text in opera. This research expands the composer’s previous practice of working with spoken text in concert music, and places this opera in the context of that previous work and the work of other composers, theatre-makers and electronic music artists. Five specific approaches to non-sung text are discussed in detail, always with reference to the dramaturgy of Kane’s text and drawing on examples from the opera: four concerned with spoken text (the ‘Opera Thought-Bubble’, Voiceover, Mid-phrase Switching, Tape-cutting) and one concerned with visually-presented text (Percussion Dialogues). The five approaches are evaluated in context of the premiere performances of the opera in May 2016, and the potential for further practice-based research on this topic is discussed.